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The Governor and the Bureaucracy in Texas. Chapter 24 O’Connor and Sabato American Government: Continuity and Change. The Governor and the Bureaucracy in Texas. In this chapter we will cover… 1. Roots of the Executive in Texas 2. The Constitutional Roles of the Governor

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The Governor and the Bureaucracy in Texas

Chapter 24

O’Connor and Sabato

American Government: Continuity and Change

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The Governor and the Bureaucracy in Texas

  • In this chapter we will cover…

    1. Roots of the Executive in Texas

    2. The Constitutional Roles of the Governor

    3. The Development of Gubernatorial Power

    4. The Governor as Policy Maker & Political Leader

    5. Plural Executive

    6. Modern Texas Bureaucracy

    7. Making Agencies Accountable

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The Roots of the Executive in Texas

  • Roots go back to Spanish period

  • 1845 - Texas joined US - Texas governor relatively powerful – two-year term and governor appointed almost all state officials

  • Reconstruction period saw decline in power

  • 1876 - Constitution further decentralized governor’s power

  • Today relatively weak governor who must share power

  • Texas governor- no term number limits

  • Constitution defines term, salary, impeachment and succession

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Constitutional Roles of Governor

  • Role set by: constitutional and legislative mandates and custom

  • Constitution: governor is chief of state, chief executive, and commander in chief

  • Governor is also chief budget officer

  • Judicial role includes clemency and pardons

  • Governor is powerful in legislative politics through the “governor’s message” and veto threat

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Development of Gubernatorial Power

  • Generally the Texas governor has always been weaker than most state governors

  • Measuring gubernatorial power includes

    tenure, appointments, budget, signing and vetoing bills

  • Restrictions include plural executive, appointive and removal powers

  • Texas governor may be weak constitutionally but powerful in terms of personal power

  • Appointive,budgetary power, and staff power tend to bolster the governor’s relative power

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Governor as Policy Maker and Political Leader

  • Governor’s skill at wielding political power important in Texas because governor is constitutionally weak (e.g., chief persuader)

  • Public opinion leadership –tours of the state to promote projects like education

  • Legislative relationship particularly important (e.g., hostile lieutenant governor or House Speaker)

  • use of veto, special sessions, appropriation legislation, and the line-item veto

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Plural Executive in Texas

  • Rooted in the legitimacy of “being elected as opposed to being appointed”

  • Primary statewide officials elected in Texas include:

    Attorney General


    Land Commissioner

    Agricultural Commissioner

    Railroad Commissioner

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Modern Texas Bureaucracy

  • Purpose of the bureaucracy is implementation of public policy, hence the executive branch to execute legislative policy

  • Texas rule-making rooted in the Administrative Procedures Act requiring, among other things, public comment, etc., before adopting rules and regulations

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Modern Texas Bureaucracy

  • Legislation creates executive agencies to respond to particular problems

  • While governor is chief executive, he/she has little direct authority over agencies and may not reorganize them

  • Texas executive agencies are organized in a variety of ways

  • Two basic patterns: one person director and multi-member board or commission

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Modern Texas Bureaucracy

  • Examples of Texas bureaucracies include:

    1. Secretary of State (appointed by governor) serves as the state’s chief election officer and keeper of the records

    2. Public Utility Commissioner

    3. Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commissioners

    4. Insurance Commissioner

    5. Commissioner of Public Health & Human Services

    6. Public Counsels

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Making Agencies Accountable

  • Legislative oversight of the bureaucracy includes:

    -review of expenditure

    -review of rules and regulations

    -performance reviews


    -sunset reviews

    -review of staff sizes and functions

    -response to constituent complaints about agencies

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Making Agencies Accountable

  • Issues and concepts related to agency accountability include:

    “Good government” recommendations

    Revolving door involving private interests and public agencies

    Iron Triangle model and the process of developing public policy